Monroe County offers cash incentive to retain skilled workforce

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) – Monroe County wants local businesses to help keep college graduates in the area and is offering a cash incentive to grow a skilled workforce.

Every year, about 19,000 residents and visitors graduate from one of the local colleges and universities, yet Monroe County struggles to keep graduates here.

Employers are invited to apply to join the county’s Rochester Emerging Talent and Innovations Network (RETAIN Monroe), a pilot program aimed at keeping talent in our area.

“This valuable recruitment tool will help our local companies promote awareness of local opportunities, develop a more skilled talent pipeline and strengthen the county’s relationship with local businesses,” said Monroe County Executive Adam Bello. “Other communities are bidding for our best and brightest — it’s time we demonstrate that Monroe County provides local college graduates the best opportunities for career and quality of life.”

The program offers recent graduates a $2,000 lump sum payment providing they live, work and network in Monroe County for one year. The grants are offered directly through Monroe County employers, with the stipulation that the new hire has at least a four-year degree directly related to their position in advanced manufacturing, life sciences, optics, photonics, imaging (OPI) or software/information technology. Funding is supplied by the Monroe County Industrial Development Corporation (MCIDC).

RETAIN is available to businesses located within Monroe County with 100 or fewer full-time employees, that have 90% of employees working within the county.

In its first year, RETAIN Monroe was allocated $100,000 to distribute up to 50 grants to eligible recipients.

Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis and minority and women-owned businesses, as well as businesses in highly distressed zip codes, will be prioritized.

Businesses can claim up to five grants ($10,000) for new employees per year.

Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE) and Veteran-owned businesses, with proper certification, will not be subject to the $10,000 cap.

Participants must have:
1. Graduated within three years from a college or university located in Monroe County and have a four-year degree or a Master’s Degree;
2. Obtained full-time employment at a business headquartered within Monroe County with 100 employees or less for one full year after the date of hire;
3. Earned a degree that is directly linked to their employment;
4. Employment in the job fields of Advanced Manufacturing, Life Sciences, Optics, Photonics and Imaging (OPI) or Software/ IT; and
5. A starting annual salary no higher than $60,000.

A full list of eligibility criteria and applications are available here.